Elephant 6 mainstay Bill Doss has reportedly passed away at the age of just 40 years old.

Athens, Georgia has a pretty close knit music scene. Around a decade ago, the city was thrust onto the map thanks to the work of the Elephant 6 Collective, who numbers included Neutral Milk Hotel and The Apple in stereo.

Bill Doss was very much central to its development. A fine songwriter in his own right, the musician led Olivia Tremor Control to cult recognition spearheading the Elephant 6 take on 60s baroque pop.

This afternoon reports (via SPIN) began emerging from the United States that Bill Doss had passed away. Gabe Vodicka, music editor of Athens based publication Flagpole Magazine, Tweeted: “Very sad news: Hearing that Olivia Tremor Control’s Bill Doss has passed away. No other details available yet”.

Olivia Tremor Control have now updated their website to include a photo of Bill Doss alongside the caption: “We are devastated by the loss of our brother Bill Doss. We are at a loss for words”.

Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

Here’s ‘I Have Been Floated’.

It’s no secret that Global Gathering is considered by many to be the UK’s premier dance festival. Having just entered into its second decade of existence, and consistently playing host to generally the world’s most fêted and talented DJs for its initial ten years, who can argue with them?

Spanned across seven stages, each playing host to different record labels on separate nights, it’s impossible to ignore Global’s unequivocal relevance to anything that can be even loosely termed “dance music”. From the main stage aficionados through drum ‘n’ bass and dubstep devotees to the never-let-it-die trance hounds, there’s invariably something for everyone.

With the exception of very few, this year’s raving frenzy provided an eighty thousand-strong crowd with a series of indubitably awesome performances – a process instigated by a crushing live set at the hands of Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosuars in a very busy Electric tent. Breathtaking by name, breathtaking by nature, the Oxford-bred twentysomething’s hummable set combined waves of electro-pop complemented with portions of Euro-house and 2-step beats that set the tone for a manic night of electronic mayhem.

Fakeblood hammered out a deadly set, thrilling fans with crowd-pleasers ‘I Think I like It’ and ‘Mars’ while finding plenty of time to showcase new tracks from new EP release ‘Yes/No’. Following that Annie Mac took to the turntables and delivered a typically galvanizing set cascading with electro and dub anthems that have earned her a solid place amongst anyone’s list of acts to see for the night.

Exploration into the neighbouring UKF tent proved unfruitful, as our ears were laden with what sounded like a cross between an inkjet printer attempting to digest one of those god-awful cheeseburgers on sale outside and that horrible, piercing noise you hear when you accidentally dial a fax number. Cheers for that Skrillex. We made a swift exit and hurried along to the Rinse tent where Magnetic Man churned out a storm of electronic delirium to bring Friday to a close.

As well as being a glorified dance festival, Global, it seems, has unintentionally become the setting for the nation’s unofficial fashion parade. We awoke Saturday morning to find that the sun had finally put in an appearance, which in turn opened the floodgates for masses of festival-goers adorned from head to toe in neon coloured paint, donning fluffy boots and hot pants that can only be described as belts. And that’s just the lads. Ahem. No, in all honesty no one gave a shit about what anyone was wearing and the day got off to a thumping start with the likes of Brookes Brothers (although only one of them turned up) and Nu: Tone playing skilled and sundry sets to a bustling crowd in the Hospitality tent.

Over on the Metropolis stage, Shogun’s Friction smashed out a violent flow of ruthless, no-nonsense, hold-on-to-your-mate style drum ‘n’ bass that triggered a mosh pit the size of a golfing green. The sound system was nothing short of immense, and could clearly be heard above any other in close proximity when loitering outside.

Back at Hospitality, classy performances from label boss London Elektricity and the ever-masterful High Contrast succeeded in drawing vast numbers who stayed rooted to the spot in anticipation of the evening’s next act, Netsky. This is a DJ who has risen through the D’n’B rankings like no other, and after the release of his second album at the age of just twenty-three, is now performing a live band tour. The Belgian-born producer stood tall between keyboardist and drummer and played out an outstanding set to a rapturous crowd, dropping anthems such as ‘Love Has Gone’ and ‘Iron Heart’ before capping it off with an uplifting rendition of ‘Anticpate’ in which he actually sang!

Now, picture a giant, evil, terminator-style cyberbot sent back in time to wipe out the human race. That, my friends, is Nero. MTA’s devilish duo delivered an unforgettable and truly thunderous performance that shook the Metropolis stage to its foundations. The synths were huge, the drops brutal and the vocals provided by Alana Watson note-perfect. But what made the set was the unparalleled thematic set-up forged from debut album ‘Welcome Reality’ that left revellers in a dazed and spellbound state.

Rave-o-holics stubbornly refused to give in to the aching pains and the revelry continued into the early hours. Global Gathering has once again proven itself to be the UK’s almighty and conquering dance festival, and ticks our boxes for all the right reasons.

Words by Josh Taylor

“Rhythm is what makes a good afrobeat record”.

Gabriel Roth – leader of New York ensemble Antibalas – would know. Spearheading the second wave of Afrobeat, the group have taken their music around the world inspiring new collectives in their wake.

New album ‘Antibalas’ is a neat introduction. All wailing horns and chicken scratch guitars, what really marks out the New York group is their primal, guttural sense of rhythm.

Out on August 20th, a preview of the new album has emerged online. ‘Dirty Money’ clocks in a neat three and a half minute of explosive, horn driven funk while the clip takes a swipe at those pesky bankers.

Watch it below.

With Dizzee Rascal, Endoflevelbaddie, Feeder, Ghostpoet, Inspiral Carpets, James, Little Barrie, Louis Barabbas, Maximo Park, Scroobius Pip, Shed Seven, Sound of Guns, Spector, The Feud, The view, To Kill a King, Various Cruelties, Vintage Trouble and We Are Scientists.

Photos by Danny Payne

“Kendal Calling seems to occupy a special part of the festival calendar, having won two best small festival awards and managing to feel intimate and relaxed despite its gradually expanding capacity (which will creep up to 20,000 by 2014). The main stage is complemented by a range of smaller stages and boutiques that boast everything from the gypsy rave punk of Slamboree and feel-good trumpets of Juan Zelada, to new-name indie, to after-hours ‘20s inspired electro, to exclusive DJ sets from the likes of Ghostpoet and DJ Andy C. This selection of small areas nicely splits the festy up into cosy little haunts, so you keep getting that private gathering vibe wherever you happen to be.”

Click here to read a full review of the festival.

Photos by Richard Gray

“As he removes his shirt to show off the washboard stomach that shows no sign of subsiding, simulates sex and performs press ups he also pokes mischief at the police.”

Click here to read a full review of the gig.

Liars have posted the animated video for new single ‘Brats’ online – watch it below.

Never second guess Liars. Just when you think you have the three piece pegged they’ll slip out from under your grasp, body swerving genre lines in the process.

Recent album ‘WIXIW’ was an overwhelming artistic success, finding Liars continuing to carve out their own niche. Stand out cut ‘Brats’ is set to gain a full single release, available on 12 inch vinyl and digital download from October 15th.

Alongside the single, Liars have unveiled a new video. ‘Brats’ has been set to animation by Ian Cheng and the results are typically striking…

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Two contrasting quotes…

Ian Cheng: “For Brats, I used a familiar animated narrative – hapless hunter vs. terroristic rabbit – as a format to grow a garden of signature motions. This collection of motions becomes material to recompose a new non-narrative choreography that animates the bodies of Liars. The Brats video documents this entropic haunting – from the ingredients of familiar meaning arises the terror of reckless non-meaning.”

Angus Andrew: “I’m intrigued by Ian Cheng’s ability to re-imagine computer graphics that are as awkward and out of control as real life. It’s unusual to see computer-animated, digital bodies with flaws that breathe, pulse, and bear traces of their imperfect analog origin and I’m honored that we could provide the inspiration for this very unique vision.”

‘Brats’ will be released on October 15th. Liars have also confirmed a few UK tour dates, details as follows:

October
10 Leeds Brudenell Social Club
11 Glasgow SW3
13 Norwich Arts Centre
14 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
15 Cambridge Junction
16 London Scala
18 Rainbow Warehouse
20 Oxford Gathering
21 Manchester Sound Control

Click here to buy tickets for Liars!

Photos by Anne Louise Kershaw

“Once Plank! began to play it was like a collage of cult movie dreams were being played out on stage as the Manchester based three-piece unraveled their unique brand of psychedelic, instrumental rock. They were completely unfussy with their execution. Producer Dave Rowe deftly flipped between guitar and keys – at all times straight faced and focused – while bassist Ed Troupe played tight-knitted lines while brooding in a darkened corner. Drummer Johnny Winbolt-Lewis provided the most animation, as he sat well lit by the video wall seemingly the only one really enjoying himself.”

Click here to read a full review of the gig.

Two Door Cinema Club have announced a short burst of intimate show this September.

When does a show become intimate? Well, that depends on the band in question. Two Door Cinema Club are plotting their return, with second album ‘Beacon’ set to be unleashed in September.

The band have confirmed plans for a short burst of UK shows, which demonstrate how far they’ve come. Labelled intimate, Two Door Cinema Club will in fact be playing venues the size of Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

For most bands, a career highlight. For Two Door Cinema Club, evidently, this is more like a stepping stone.

Opening in Birmingham, the band will also play Manchester’s Sound Control before heading over to Dublin for a one off Irish date.

Tickets are set to go on general sale this Friday (August 3rd).

Watch a trailer for ‘Beacons’ below and then check out the full list of dates after the jump.

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Two Door Cinema Club are set to play the following shows:

September
4 Birmingham HMV Library
5 Manchester Sound Control
6 London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
7 Dublin The Academy

Click here to buy tickets for Two Door Cinema Club!

We may as well get this out the way first: at one point in my life, I was a complete Benga fan boy.

The first dubstep DJ I ever encountered in the flesh – not just via a modem – his approach, his attitude was infectious. You can also throw in the fact that when he wanted to, Benga could change the rules of the game with a single release. Even now, I would still defend the best of that 2004 – 2008 output to the death: anyone who doubts the power and veracity of ‘Diary Of An Afro Warrior’ is in for a serious (b)ass whuppin’.

But then I took part in some unwitting regicide. Clash published a story which used a remark Benga had made during an NME interview. Somewhat innocently, the producer had argued that he didn’t make dubstep anymore.

Several thousand Facebook likes later the story had gone viral and I found myself on the phone to the Croydon producer attempting to assess what had happened. “The reason why that kicked off is because there is a lot of speculation around what dubstep’s doing and what individual artists are doing” he states, with a noticeable edge to his voice. “I mean, that statement is kind of true because I’ve brought it up a few times in other interviews and it’s like, it’s not to say that I’ve now completely stopped working on dubstep – I’ve just moved into other areas. I’ve just decided that for me to remain creative, I’ve kinda not got to call my music dubstep and for me to keep pushing boundaries and moving around and making songs I can’t call myself dubstep”.

Which is fair enough. Dubstep was always a broad church, extending far beyond the hilariously small parameters (140, bit of wobble) some would ascribe to it. Playing devil’s advocate, I ask Benga if he would follow Skream’s route and release some underground material – perhaps even anonymously. “I ain’t scared. I ain’t scared to put anything out under my name” he bites. “You do aliases because you think people won’t like what you do under your name. I’m just like – whatever. I’m not scared. I mean, I’ve got loads of different kinds of cuts, and not to say that every single cut that I make in my studio is like is in a particular vein. It would be very very very naive of people to think that the tracks that they hear from my album is the direction that I’m going in completely, because like I say – I change every day. Whether it’s vocal or it’s not, whether it’s dark or it’s not – just keep it moving”.

As the success of Magnetic Man proves, the divide between underground bass sounds and the mainstream is collapsing. Gaps are opening up, which can provide the right producer with an enormous platform to work from. Is that what Benga wants, I wonder? “100%. Who doesn’t? People are lying if they say they don’t, no matter what music they make” the producer argues. “I don’t care what anyone wants to call it – if it’s commercial success, or just being popular. I just want to make sure that my music is heard by everyone who can possibly hear it. I want to push boundaries because that’s how you’re remembered. You don’t get remembered by making the same shit every day”.

It’s funny. The underground has a dismissive attitude towards the mainstream, something which runs particularly deep in bass culture. Hell, even Bob Marley took flack for using session musicians on ‘Catch A Fire’ with Benga proving to be the latest in a long line of bass warriors to come under attack for his success. As a reference point, though, the Croydon producer looks towards recent Stateside figures. “People like Timbaland and Dre” he says. “The way they smashed the charts but they had such a different sound, a different take on pop music – that’s me! That is completely me. All of the big tunes I’ve had, those hits sound so different to what’s on the radio at the time. It’s like bringing the Benga sound to pop music and doing it well!”

Realistically, Benga is absolutely on the money when he claims that he isn’t making dubstep anymore. Very few of those original pioneers are: Ramadanman has morphed into Pearson Sound while Headhunter has segued into Addison Groove. Change, it seems, is inevitable. “I’ve always done that, like from the very beginning. Maybe not so much when I was fifteen. As time went on obviously I listen to stuff and keep it – I mean, that’s always been something I’ve listened to. Songs. Michael Jackson didn’t make the same song every time did he? The only thing that links Michael Jackson’s music together is his voice. Whereas I’m a producer-artist it’s not my voice that links it together. Every track should just sound really different”.

The commercial appeal of recent Benga cuts is something which has bothered fans. Yet it takes a peculiar type of genius to lay waste to the charts – after all, if it was easy we’d all be getting Top Ten hits, rolling in greenbacks and laughing all the way to FWD. Dominated by ambition, there’s no doubt that Benga has hit sights set on taking this as far as it can go. “The biggest surprise for me in the last two years has got to be the Grammys that Skrillex won. I mean, we’ve always been very ambitious people but one thing that I’ve always – or should I say, that I’ve come to realise – is that me and Skream have always had these massive goals and we’ve always achieved them due to our determination and how hard we actually work” he explains. “It just kind of dawned on me, what were my new goals? What did I want to achieve? Skrillex come about, he knew what wanted to get – he went out and got Grammies. I had to think again: hold on a minute, I do want to get Grammies. I do want to do these things so let’s go! Let’s go again.. Benga album: chapter two. See what we get with that”.

The first time I saw Benga, he stood behind the decks tearing up a Scottish crowd with reload after reload. Head bobbing above the mixer, his fusion of bravado and infectious energy seemed to stem from an enormous sense of self belief – something he’s been drawing on a lot, of late. “It’s only like the chatter of your mind, you know what I mean? It’s the way you think” he says. “You may think at one point that you want to do this but so many things enter your head before you can even take the first step. As soon as you start to think: I want to do this, I want to achieve this. They then think: ah, but people will hate me. It’s going to be hard to do this. All these thoughts. When you associate these things with them being hard, that’s when you start.. your brain reacts to it. It starts to think: oh, I can’t do this. It comes about in everybody’s life, it just takes that person that kinda has the guts and kinda has that determination to just go: think all them thoughts, but still do it. Those are the people that succeed. Other people just never even take a step to do it”.

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‘Chapter 2’ is set to be released on August 27th.

Amidst very little hype, but plenty of “in the know” buzz, Plank! launched their new LP ‘Animalism’.

Where they got their name from is anyone’s guess and where they got their fan base is equally perplexing, as they seem to exist quite outside of the world of PR. Despite this, the Soup Kitchen basement was wall-to-wall full. You got the impression that those attending were inside some prog-rock clique; tickets were obtained on a “need to know” basis and the event organised by people with ‘Reservoir Dogs’ style pseudonyms.

Once Plank! began to play it was like a collage of cult movie dreams were being played out on stage as the Manchester based three-piece unraveled their unique brand of psychedelic, instrumental rock. They were completely unfussy with their execution. Producer Dave Rowe deftly flipped between guitar and keys – at all times straight faced and focused – while bassist Ed Troupe played tight-knitted lines while brooding in a darkened corner. Drummer Johnny Winbolt-Lewis provided the most animation, as he sat well lit by the video wall seemingly the only one really enjoying himself.

This all felt very suitable and despite Plank!’s heavy use of trad-rock monotony, they did everything they could to unsettle expectations. The rather impressive video backdrop – a huge addition considering the bands straight delivery – flashed fast-paced clips of lab monkeys, geometric shapes and mathematical equations. This, alongside their straight delivery confirmed that yep, we were in head-mess territory.

When they struck up ‘King Rat’ it played like road music from some super sonic space highway; heard through armchair sized ‘70s earphones. ‘Self Harm’ demonstrated their intense playfulness with time signatures with what appeared to be an alternate 5/4, 6/4 beat. ‘Pig Sick’ saw more tricksy timing with an even more complicated time signature that was hard to pin down. This time the repetitive ploddiness of the first half was lightened by some lovely electronic arpeggios in the second that gave the feeling Plank!’s sound would benefit from even more of these electronic intricacies.

This is probably why ‘Moo Licks’ was the highlight of the show. It demonstrated more of Rowe’s Foo Fighters-esque guitaring only here he alternated between shrill straight tones and crunchy Fleetwood Mac ‘Chains’ style heavier drones in a repetitious drive of a track. The treat came after a couple of minutes where Rowe got all Atari with his keyboard and rolled out a repetitious synth patterns interjected with random off notes that sounded like an ‘80s ‘Game Over’ sequence had gone A.W.O.L. This was both hypnotic and startling; a full on seven-minute synth rock fest.

During this, Plank! reinforced all-pervading psychedelia with some very interesting stage antics. The video wall seemingly came to life as the stage was invaded by a pig mask wearing randomer, who danced about, Red Stripe in hand. He was joined by another mask wearing oddity. Collectively they ended processions with euphoric hugs that saw them rolling about on stage seemingly exhausted by their antics.

On the whole Plank! sounded like the hybrid love child of Neu! and Creedence Clearwater Revival with serious A.D.H.D. locked in a room full of Red Stripe and synthesizers; and the crowd loved them for it.

Words and photo by Anne Louise Kershaw

Click here for a photo gallery of the gig.